Weblog (15ish years ago): A thing where people used to log their thoughts on the web.
Blog (now): Any website owned and authored by any number of people, for any purpose (business, academic, promotional, artistic), not even necessarily containing words at all, but with the unifying characteristic that people can usually leave comments.
What happened to the word blog? Join me as I step up onto my soapbox… Dumb question. Or maybe a legit question. Who knows. What exactly is a blog these days?
Back in the days when Livejournal and Blogspot were hot, I remember blogs being, well, web logs. I had a cool, artsy, angst-filled LJ for a hot minute where I groaned about typical teenage stuff. Everyone I knew did.
Man that final exam sucked. But OMG my crush totally asked me to go see Harry Potter with him!!! I think he like-likes me!
You know, like a diary but for the whole world to see. Back then, like now, there were blogs that are more like diaries, and blogs that are devoted to any number of topics, like cooking, baking, faith, gaming, fitness, fashion, lifestyle, books, movies, and so on. And those aren’t what I’m talking about here.
My question is, when did we start using the word “blog” to refer to websites that, I think, arguably aren’t weblogs at all?
Namely, the following:
“Blogs” hosted and authored by large organizations. Virtually every university these days has a blog, as do many think tanks, museums, health institutes, and businesses. As delicious as the British Museum articles are, that’s not a blog. And as much as I’m obsessed with Tory Burch, she doesn’t have a blog. In my opinion, these are all webzines. They are commercially produced, highly curated, multi-authored powerhouses with an inherent bias. Which is fine — I mean, I wouldn’t expect to read Tory’s blog and have her rave about her new Louboutins. The beauty of sites like this is the wealth of expertise and sleekness they can afford. But even if these sites have posts that are authored by individuals, the fact that the individual(s) themselves don’t moderate, organize, and design the site themselves, to me, makes it an online magazine.
“Blogs” that have almost zero words. This mostly applies to the preppy fashion blogs I love to despise, but it drives me nuts to come across sites that call themselves blogs but are really just glorified Instagram pages. I used to be addicted to Insta, and I still love taking photos, so I’m definitely not knocking people who have a fancy DSLR and a knack for photography — kudos to them, genuinely! But I’m sorry, if the only words on your “blog” are the captions on photographs, it’s not a blog! It’s a portfolio of your photography or your modeling or your fashion, which is awesome — really, it is. The world needs artists of all sorts, but please call it a portfolio or a photo-journal. Want examples? Check out this or this.
Many accounts on tumblr, for a few reasons. One, I think a lot of accounts on tumblr are reblog accounts, meaning their content is a potpourri of other accounts’ posts, with very little if nothing original. Two, even for accounts that regularly post original content, it seems like a lot of it is pure photography. Three, for accounts that do actually post words (words! what are those?!), my experience is that the commenting mechanism in tumblr basically makes it a hybrid of reddit and a generic, troll-laden message board.
*steps down from soapbox*
Tell me, how do you personally define the word blog?
If you disagree, I would genuinely love to hear other perspectives. I do of course understand that languages are always evolving, and that, as such, words can change meaning over time. So if you disagree with me and think blogs are much broader now than they used to be, please chime in!
And if what I wrote resonated with you, do you think I missed any categories of non-blogs?